The short intro: For those who are unfamiliar with the concept, Old Time Radio is the phrase generally used to refer to the time when radio was (mostly) live, and was full of a variety of different shows, as opposed to simply being a means for record labels to use robots to promote the top records of the day. Old Time Radio Thursdays is my chance to explore some of those old radio shows, their connections (both old and new) to movies, and hopefully to encourage some of the rest of you to take a look at a probably unfamiliar source of entertainment that I truly love. If you want more info on OTR, and some examples of the variety of shows that were made, be sure to check out this introductory post.
I’ve always found Peter Lorre to be a very intriguing actor. Both visually and vocally, he is very distinctive, and yet he always seems to somehow subsume himself into the roles he is playing. He also has a very interesting ability to shift the tone of the character he is playing with a seeming ease that is actually quite skillful which allows him to move from, say weaselly to menacing as quickly as an eye blink.
That’s why I was very interested and intrigued when I found out that he was, at one time, featured in his own old time radio show, Mystery in the Air.
The show was a summer replacement series which ran for 13 episodes in 1947. Unfortunately, of those 13, only seven apparently survive today. Nonetheless, those surviving episodes really provide some wonderful listening, as Lorre really sinks his teeth into the roles, and listening to these, for me at least, really makes it seem a shame that the rest are seemingly lost forever, and that the series did not last longer.
I’m not going to spend a lot of time talking about them, preferring instead to simply give you a chance to listen for yourselves. Unfortunately, I’ve only been able to find three available for embedding below, but all seven appear to be available for download at the wonderful Internet Archive if you want to listen to the others.
Until next time, as always, Happy Listening!